In this article, we are going to address salt inhalers, particularly the Himalayan Salt Inhalers. You will gather some interesting views about them and will learn ‘Do Himalayan Salt Inhalers Work for Stress’? And ‘Does Himalayan Salt Improve Sleep’? Together with answers to many other questions.
Before jumping into the effects of using Himalayan Salt Inhalers, let’s cover some background about the role of stress in our overall health and well-being.
Day to Day Stress
A lot of people suffer from anxiety, insomnia and depression as a result of not well managed ‘stress’ – work stress, financial stress, family stress and so on. And we hardly find the time and space to relax and recharge.
Stress can affect us in many ways. It can have an effect on our health, the way we think, how we feel and how we behave. If stress is not properly managed, it can result to serious health issues like insomnia, high blood pressure, low energy level, and other physical issues such as sleeping difficulties, weight problems and poor immune system. Low susceptibility to infection and low energy levels are also common. It can also progress to depression or anxiety disorder.
Halotherapy and the History
If you suffer from stress and anxiety and looking for a holistic a drug-free approach to managing stress, why not try salt therapy, also known as Halotherapy. This therapy goes way back many centuries ago.
Salt is believed to have a lot of health benefits. The Romans, Greek and also the Indian Ayurveda system of medicine use it part of the regimen to improve health among us.
In the olden days, the Greek go into salt caves and spend some hours to get some of the benefits which include;
- calming and relaxing the body,
- increasing the production of serotonin which is believed to reduce stress hormone in the body and
- improve the sleeping pattern.
Recently there has been a lot of man-made salt caves and spas where people go to relax and get the benefits of inhaling this salt. Since not everybody can afford to go to a salt room every now and then, salt pipe/ inhalers are available. It is believed that the salt inhalers can give the same health benefits as a salt cave.
What is Salt Therapy?
Salt Therapy, also known as Halotherapy, is a complimentary drug-free treatment that involves breathing in or bathing with fine pharmaceutical grade salt particles either in wet or dry form.
This therapy is believed to help in relieving symptoms of a wide range of skin and respiratory conditions. According to the Lung Health Institute, salt is a substance with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It can also remove toxins from the body. It can loosen mucus and reduce immune system hypersensitivity.
People use this therapy to get long-lasting relief from conditions like –
- Bronchial infections,
- Smoker’s Cough,
- Chronic ENT illnesses,
- Sleeping disorder,
- Cold and cough,
- Acne, and
Salt therapy can be done in two ways – wet or dry salt therapy.
Wet Salt Therapy
Wet Salt therapy involves the use of salt scrubs, saltwater bath, internal saltwater dishes and gargling salt mixture.
Dry Salt Therapy
Dry salt therapy is done with the help of a halogenerator which grinds the salt into fine particles that are aerosolized in a controlled environment known as a salt cave/ room.
These fine salt particles when inhaled, clean the airways of smoke, dust, and toxins by relieving inflammation, loosening and thinning the mucus. This helps you to breathe better and increases the intake of oxygen.
Aside from breathing in the fine salt particles, salt is also good for the skin, it can help to reduce inflammation, absorb impurities, balance the pH level and stimulate your skin’s good bacteria. It believed to promote natural exfoliation, improves the skin’s protective properties, encourages regeneration and slows down aging.
Other ways of dry salt therapy that are not pricey and easy to do at home include the use of salt inhalers and salt lamps.
What is a Himalayan Salt Inhaler (or Pipe)?
If you are looking for a good alternative replacement for your chemical base inhaler for respiratory problems, you could try Himalayan salt inhaler or pipe. This is a small porcelain ceramic device containing chunks of pink Himalayan salt believed to give you the same health benefits as going into a salt cave.
A salt inhaler is used as an alternative therapy for respiratory conditions, as noted earlier.
When using this inhaler, you are breathing in the salt-infused air with micro salt particles not really the grains of salt which can be dangerous. These salt particles help to clear your airway and relieve respiratory conditions when inhaled into our lungs.
Tip: Himalayan salt is also called as Chinen Salt.
Now let’s explore the potential benefits of using a Himalayan salt inhaler.
Himalayan Salt Inhaler Benefits
Helps to boost respiratory strength and ease respiratory conditions
The salt particle draws water into the airways which as a result hydrates the mucus membrane, traps, kill and clear out the pathogens by dehydrating the cells.
This believed to help to give you relief from symptoms like asthma, dry cough, pneumonia, bronchitis, smokers cough, sore throats, common cold and flu, COPD, sinus infections and hay fever.
Because of the antihistamine properties of salt, using a salt inhaler consistently coats and protects the mucus membrane, thereby balancing the histamine response in the lungs and sinus cavity.
Inhaling the Himalayan salt also believed to ease inflammation and irritation caused by smoke, allergens and pollution.
Improves your mood, reduce stress and anxiety
It is believed that Himalayan salt releases negative ions that boost the levels of serotonin in the body, thereby improving your mood, reducing stress and anxiety and boosting your energy.
Also, your ability to breathe easily increases your oxygen intake, which in return, helps your body to relax more.
It may aid in lowering blood pressure
Because Himalayan salt is high in the potassium, using an inhaler may help in stabilizing blood pressure.
· May help reduce mucus build-up by hydrating the respiratory tract
This helps in thinning and reducing excess mucous and easing stuffy nose
· Helps you to sleep better and also to boost your immune system
Since stress produces cortisol which obstructs the flow of the sleep hormone, melatonin, it is believed that since Himalayan salt can relieve stress, it means your body will be more relax and will sleep better. Sound sleep is one way to boost the immune system.
Tip: Did you know that Himalayan Salt is a better option for diabetes.
Now let’s talk a bit about how Himalayan salt inhalers work.
How Does a Himalayan Salt Inhaler Work?
The Himalayan salt pipe is made of a chamber at the bottom for the salt crystals crystal, at the top is a tube that connects to the chamber and below the chamber are opening.
As you breathe in through the pipe, the moisture in the air you breathe in passes over the Himalayan salt, absorbing micro salt particles straight into your lungs. This helps to reduce the build-up of excess mucus by hydrating the mucus membrane, thinning mucus, thereby easing nasal congestion.
This helps to alleviate inflammation which in return helps you to breathe better too.
Himalayan Salt Inhaler for Stress and Anxiety? What Research Say?
Just like in a salt cave, it is believed that since the Himalayan salt is pure and natural with a lot of minerals, it can release anions.
Anions, also have known as ‘negative ions’ are molecules that are odorless, tasteless, and invisible that we inhale in abundance in natural environments like waterfalls, mountains, and beaches. It is believed that the negative ions once they enter into our bloodstream, produce biochemical reactions that increase the level of serotonin which boost our moods, alleviate depression, relieve stress, boost our energy level and cognitive performance.
Although there is no enough research to confirm that negative ion can reduce serotonin to help manage stress and anxiety, there are some research studies which support that negative ion can help to reduce symptoms of depression, regulate sleeping pattern, reduce stress, improve your mood and cognitive performance.
A 2013 review of scientific literature on negative ionization suggested that negative ion may help to reduce the symptoms of depression. Another similar study in 2015 found that a short term exposure to negative ion helped to improve cognitive performance.
Moreover, inhaling Himalayan salt can help to clear your respiratory tract, which helps you to take a deep breathe and taking a deep breathe according to some literature can help to ease stress and anxiety.
Tip: Magnesium supplements can help with panic attacks.
Himalayan Salt Inhaler for Insomnia? What Research Say?
According to the Sleeping Foundation, stress and anxiety can cause insomnia and insomnia as well can lead to an increase in stress, anxiety and depression. Using a Himalayan salt inhaler help you to breathe better, improve your mood and relax more and this, in turn, helps you to sleep better.
It is also believed that the negative ion the Himalayan salt releases helps to boost your energy and mood and reduce your stress level, which also helps to regulate your sleeping pattern.
How to Use a Himalayan Salt Inhaler?
A salt inhaler is easy to use. Most of them usually come prefilled with plenty of Himalayan crystal salt. You can also refill it by removing the silicone plug at the bottom, pour in about 2.5 ounces of the salt into the hole and replace the plug voila! Then your salt inhaler is ready for use!
You can use the inhaler in two ways
1. Inhaling it through your mouth
– shake the pipe gently, put the in your mouth
– then, inhale the salt vapor through your mouth and exhale it through your nose.
2. Inhaling through your nose
– Shake the pipe gently and bring it close to one nostril.
– Inhale and switch to the other nostril.
3. Repeat until you complete the treatment time, as per your therapist’s recommendations.
Note, it is not advisable to exhale into the pipe as this will prevent fresh air from coming into the inhaler. Always store the inhaler in a dry place.
How Often Should I Use My Himalayan Salt Inhaler?
It is recommended that the Himalayan salt inhaler should be used for about 15- 25 minutes daily for at least 21 days to notice any benefits.
The treatment can be carried out twice daily, 10 minutes when you wake up in the morning and about 10 minutes before going to bed at night.
To get a more effective result, you can do this every day for a whole year. Again, if that’s recommended by your doctors.
Remember, for some people, using a Himalayan salt inhaler could bring some minor adverse effects.
Himalayan Salt Inhaler Side Effects?
The Himalayan salt inhaler uses Himalayan salt, which is a natural and purest salt without additives, toxin or pollutants. It contains the same ideal ratio of 84 different minerals in the human body in an ionic form. This makes it easier for the individual cell to absorb it.
The Himalaya salt is 100% natural and non-invasive, with no known negative major side effect. Although ingesting too much of it can be bad for your health, but breathing it in doesn’t affect you negatively rather it helps to clear the airway of toxin and mucus using it anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
It usually gives a salty aftertaste after the first few inhalations. (Other minor side effects are noted in the next section below)
Tip: Gemstones can help you manage anxiety and depression better.
Can Salt Therapy be Harmful?
According to scientific research, there are no studies on the safety of halotherapy. But since halotherapy do not involve ingesting the salt but inhaling it, it may be safe for most people.
But, just like every other therapy, salt therapy has its own side effect which is associated with the therapy session and how sick the individual is.
The side effects that may occur are
- slight cough,
- runny nose or tightness in the chest,
- Itchy throat
- Minor irritation of the skin
The therapists believe that all these effects are as a result of the salt doing its work of removing mucus and toxins from the respiratory tract and lungs. But, those immediate symptoms or effects are not pleasant for the most.
Who Should Not Use a Himalayan Salt Inhaler?
It is not advisable for cancer patients, people with open wounds, fever, contagious disease, severe hypertension, active tuberculosis, chronic obstructive lung diseases and mental disorder to undergo salt therapy.
What if people with asthma? Although it is said that salt therapy can be used in treating asthma, remember salt therapy may constrict and irritate the airways and worsen the condition. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, salt therapy may result in coughing, wheezing, mucus, and shortness of breathe in asthma patients, which may worsen the situation.
Although there are many positive things about Himalayan salt pipes, remember the number of scams in this area of health care is not simple.
Himalayan Salt Inhaler Scams
Quite a lot of manufacturers claim that Himalayan salt inhalers come with a ton of benefits, but how true are those claims.
One of such claims is that Himalayan salt emits abundant anions which can cure stress and anxiety, purify the air, increase energy, cure high blood pressure and improve sleep. Remember, as mentioned earlier, there are no conclusive research or studies to prove that Himalayan salt in the inhaler actually emits anion and if it does, to what level and how long does one need to inhale it to get all these ‘acclaimed benefits’.
We do not believe that Himalayan salt can cure your stress, insomnia or anxiety disorders. Still, it is possible that it helps your efforts in the fight with those medical conditions.
Another claim is that the Himalayan salt contains about 84 trace minerals which your body needs, these minerals help to strengthen your bone, regulate the pH and water content in your body. Nobody is disputing about the Himalayan salt containing other trace minerals apart from sodium chloride. Still, the question here is which nobody is giving us answers as to how they come about the 84 trace minerals? What is
the list of these minerals and their benefits to human health? How can this trace minerals be transported into our body by the simple act of inhalation instead of ingestion? And, most importantly,
how many minerals each Himalayan salt product in the market contains.
No one is saying that Himalayan salt doesn’t have any health benefit, the question is to what extent.
Before you place an order for a Himalayan salt inhaler, have it in mind that there are no extensive research and tests to prove all the acclaimed benefits and safety of the inhaler. Although the use of an inhaler pipe is a complimentary, non-invasive and drug-free approach which gives extra support in easing respiratory and skin condition (mainly) and not a scientifically proven cure or a treatment to any medical condition.
Himalayan salt pipes are not FDA approved, it is not supposed to interfere with your medication. In most cases, you can use it along with your regular medicines but do not stop your medication or use the inhaler as a replacement to the prescribed medication.
Also, as usual, our best advice is for you to consult your doctor before considering a salt inhaler as a solution to a medical condition.